Monday, March 18, 2013

Race Preparation 2013 - P2A

This will be my second Paris-to-Ancaster race in as many years.  Other than perhaps trying my luck at a triathlon sometime again, it is the only bicycle race I will do.   It's not precisely a gravel-grinder but its the closest thing we have around here.

With exactly a month to go I find myself without a bicycle. And that brings me to my next rebuild.

I've never experienced the catastrophic failure of an aluminum frame.
Maybe this is the year.

I am taking my old Diamondback aluminum frame and cannibalizing parts from my Pake commuter  to make a machine that "may" survive the rigours imposed upon it.

The bottom bracket makes an occasional crunching noise but for the life of me I can't seem to get the caps off!  So, no new bearings this year.  How bad can it be, right?

The gear-ratio is not great for the amount of climbing I'll have to do.  The cassette is too limited in range but (21 in the back and 28 in the front) its the only one I can find that will work with my shifter set-up.

The handlebars are originally from my daughter's Peugeot.  They are small and obviously rounded at the front so I thought they would do well to miss trees and branches throughout the wooded areas of the course.  However, I can't figure out how to get road drops on v-brakes so I'll need to go back to a flat-bar.

I should have this bicycle on the road by the end of the week, so I'm not too worried about that.  It's my fitness level that's hurting.  In fact, they added an extra 10km to their traditional 60 km course. As memory serves, I had lost my legs at about 50km last year and struggled to finish with any dignity at all.  70km through mud is daunting.

I registered for the fifth (read: last) wave.  In theory I could arrange to be the final person out of 3000 to enter the course.  It's a thought.  If I did depart last there would be no expectations and every time I manage to pass someone I could view it as a small victory.  On the other hand, I think there is a "Lantern Rouge" in this race, so you never know.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

V-Sixty Magnesium Pedals

At the end of 2011 I said that I would lay-off the the pedal-posts for 2012.  It was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but it seems my exaggeration was prophetic!  No pedal posts last year whatsoever.

Alas, here we go again!  The Salsa Beargrease I rented had platform pedals with spikes, and I could not get over how well my feet stayed in place without any kind of clip system.  I did a bit of research and found that Pinkbike completed some research on the subject of the pedalling motion.  The short summary of their findings reveals that the up-stroke is overrated.  When I add my own variables to this (commuting on a flat route, and enjoying the stability and confidence that quickly getting a foot down gives me) I knew that my search for the ultimate pedal was close.

Although I haven't installed them yet, I picked up a very nice looking set of V-Sixty magnesium platforms.  They are light and stylish and I think I got a very decent price.

I intend to use these pedals exclusively even when I finish my "off road" build.  I will swap the pedals between the two bicycles.

I do wonder how I will get a bent or broken pin out - but aside from the Paris-to-Ancaster race (in just over a month) I don't think I will have to worry about damaging anything on a routine commute.  

Monday, March 04, 2013

Riding in Ottawa - it's not 1983 anymore

I always felt secure on my bicycle while growing up in a quiet west-end community of Ottawa.  I no longer live in Ottawa but my parents do, and on my last visit I rented a Salsa Beargrease and toured about the city.
Some reactions were positive, others not so much.  Since I don't have any photos for this post I shall keep it brief.

The Negative: I got stared down by a guy driving a ParaTranspo Bus, I got honked at twice (not the just-a-friendly-toot-to-remind-you-that-there's-a-car-here kind, but the GET OFF THE ROAD kind), and there were at least two times that a car seemed to pass me intentionally close.

These kinds of things don't seem to happen in Hamilton.  I wonder why?  I wonder which is a more realistic expectation for a vehicular cyclist?

The Positive:  People all over were staring at me (the good kind, I think.  Remember, I was on a big, fat-tired bicycle), I heard "that is the coolest bike I have ever seen" from three different teenaged boys on school trips, I had two city workers approach me grinning ear to ear eager to have their questions answered about the bike, I had a truck pull up alongside me (while in motion) and the fellows in it (also grinning widely) give me the repeated thumbs-up.

I have to say, I felt special riding this thing. It was a real ego-boost. In other words, since I didn't actually get hit by a car, the positives well outweighed the negatives.  I'll do it again one day but for now I will put this "thread" to rest. Cheers.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Beargrease Post III - the components

Nothing on the bicycle was stock (in case you were wondering), but the components on the Salsa Beargrease really impressed me.

I often defer to cheaper components because my philosophy is "what can the difference really be?" are a couple of observations that threaten to rock my thrifty world.

One. Disc brakes are terrific.  I don't own a bicycle with disc brakes but I can certainly see the attraction.  These were Hope Pro Hydraulic and their stopping power was excellent.  I enjoyed a feeling of security which I seldom have in wet weather.  They were quite noisy, in fact, embarrassingly so at times.  But if they saved me (even once!) from gliding out-of-control into a bus, well then, I can put up with a bit of a screech.

Two.  I loved the pedals.  They were platforms with pins and no clip-in system whatsoever.  I take it thats the rule for mountain bikes (which I don't know much about).  They had surprisingly marvelous grip.  I have used strap systems since the age of 13, but now I am wondering if even that is necessary. In Grant Petersen's book "Just Ride" he argues that we spend much less time "pulling up" than we think.

On the Beargrease I was surprised that I had no difficulty keeping my feet where they were supposed to be.  I admit, I thought that I "pulled up" more than that.  I guess I "pedal squares" as I once heard Bernard Hinault (the Badger!) put it.

Will any of this translate to the Pake - my regular commuter?  I think yes.

I am not suitably equipped to "review" the drivetrain, but I will say that it shifted quickly and flawlessly.  Brand: unknown.

I have one more post to come in this series.  It will be about the varried reactions I received cycling through Ottawa on the Beargrease.